Waukegan residents sound off after hospital loses trauma center designation

It was nearly a packed house at Monday night's City Council meeting in Waukegan. There was raw emotion during public comments regarding Vista Medical Center East.

Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek says she was alarmed by a mass exodus of clinicians, the hospital's failure to ensure appropriate providers, and staff not being paid.

"There was a situation at the end of December where a woman having a baby waited twice the time she should have waited for an emergency procedure because providers were occupied in other rooms," Banek said.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has stripped Vista Medical Center East of its level two trauma center designation. A spokesperson for IDPH told FOX32 it was "due to a lack of essential services, including a blood bank, anesthesia, neurology, urology, and a full-time trauma coordinator."

"Heart attack and stroke patients may not survive a drive to other hospitals. The burden is on American Healthcare Systems to correct these deficiencies," Banek said.

Waukegan Mayor Ann B. Taylor said the city wants to keep the hospital around and is committed to quality care.

Without level two trauma certification, it means patients with severe injuries after shootings or car crashes will be taken to other hospitals not in the immediate area. The fear is that some patients won't make it in time, and lives will be lost.

Authorities say the hospital owners will now put in place a corrective action plan. For trauma services, patients must now travel 20 minutes away to healthcare facilities in Libertyville and Lake Forest.